At the 2021 Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, Haegeli by T2 Racing took its first outright win in the 24H SERIES, Bas Koeten Racing took its second consecutive win at the event, PROsport Racing continued its winning ways in GT4, and Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing came out on top of an astonishingly close fight in TCR. But did you know…?
Well, come on, this was always going to be a talking point!
At the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, the sole surviving Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing Volkswagen beat AC Motorsport’s Audi to the line by just 4.344s to claim the event’s overall TCE win, the slimmest winning advantage since the division was introduced to the 24H SERIES for 2016. The previous record was held by Kawasaki Racing by Bas Koeten Racing, which beat the ‘sister’ NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR to the line at the 2018 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO by just 17.585 seconds.
Interestingly, given that they were also split by just 26.792s at the 2019 Hankook 12H MUGELLO, Autorama Motorsport, AC Motorsport, and Stéphane Perrin (the only driver to have competed at both events) have now been involved in two of the four closest TCE finishes to-date in the 24H SERIES.
Further up the grid, Haegeli by T2 Racing beat MiddleCap racing with Scuderia Praha to the chequered flag by 53.359 seconds. While admittedly, that’s a yawning chasm compared to the 5.417s with which AF Corse beat Stadler Motorsport for outright victory at the 2014 12H MUGELLO, T2 Racing’s result is still the eighth closest outright GT win in 24H SERIES history.
In GT, Haegeli by T2 Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R came out on top of a titanic three-way fight with MiddleCap racing with Scuderia Praha’s Ferrari 488 GT3 and Leipert Motorsport’s Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo. Still in podium contention until the closing stages, CP Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo eventually finished 4th ahead of Rutronik Racing by TECE’s Audi R8 LMS.
Things were equally as varied in the TCE division. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing’s Volkswagen Golf GTI finished just four seconds clear of AC Motorsport’s Audi RS 3 LMS in a grandstand finish, early contender CWS Engineering managing to recover from a detached wheel to take the final podium spot with its Ginetta G55. Behind the top three, Munckhof Racing made a solid return to the 24H SERIES with 4th overall with its BMW M4 GTR, while Autorama Motorsport’s solo SEAT León Cup Racer rounded out the top five in TCE.
Six hours into this year’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, MiddleCap racing with Scuderia Praha looked the team to beat: lead driver Josef Král pulled 20 seconds clear of the chasing pack during his opening stint, and the Czech team crossed the finish line more than 40 seconds ahead of Haegeli by T2 Racing and a further 37 seconds in front of Leipert Motorsport.
A superb run from T2 Racing though, including strategic use of the Code 60 caution periods on Sunday, meant it was the #66 Porsche 911 GT3 R that eventually came through to take T2 Racing’s first outright win in the 24H SERIES in only the Swiss team’s second start. It also marks the ninth outright win in a row for Porsche in the 24H SERIES, a streak that began just under a year ago at the 2020 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO.
Herberth Motorsport is responsible for the bulk of those wins, the Bavarian team’s 911 GT3 R having been victorious at Portimão, Monza and Mugello in 2020, and Mugello (again) and Circuit Paul Ricard this season. GPX Racing’s 911 GT3 R took a commanding win last year at the COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily and a popular victory at its home event this January in Dubai. T2 Racing’s recent win at Hockenheim, plus an underdog win for NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing’s Porsche 991-II Cup at last year’s event complete the on-going chain.
If being part of an on-going streak (point number 3) and one of the series’ closest finishes in history (point number 1) not enough, Haegeli by T2 Racing also became the latest ‘first time’ outright winner of a 24H SERIES at Hockenheim, an achievement that’s become customary in the 24H SERIES.
In fact, since the 24H SERIES became an FIA-recognized championship back in 2015, every season bar one has featured at least one new outright race winner.
Herberth Motorsport began, what would become, an illustrious career in the 24H SERIES with its first win at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO in 2015, RAM Racing and HP Racing following suit two and three rounds later respectively at Paul Ricard and Barcelona. In 2016, Belgian Audi Club Team WRT took its first win at that year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI, V8 Racing emulating the Audi customer at the next round in Mugello. Since then, ROFGO Racing (Silverstone, 2018), Barwell Motorsport (Barcelona, 2019), NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (Hockenheim, 2020), GPX Racing (COPPA FLORIO, 2020) and Haegeli by T2 Racing (Hockenheim, 2021) have all become outright victors.
The only exception is 2017, when Scuderia Praha, Herberth Motorsport, and Car Collection Motorsport – all former winners – took their collective honours.
How fitting that, 44 years after his first high profile race at the 6H Hockenheim in 1977, Enzo Calderari was back at the Baden-Württemberg venue for his first endurance race in 12 years, and for an endurance event that was twice as long!
He’s credited with four starts in the World Championship of Makes in both 1977 and 1978 – all in a Porsche 934 for Angelo Pallavicini’s eponymous entry – before running an (almost) full-time campaign with Pallavicini and/or Écurie Biennoise in 1979. Thereafter followed a sojourn into tin tops with the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft in 1982 (a forerunner of the DTM) and multiple seasons in the European Touring Car Championship, two of which were spent with Tom Walkinshaw Racing. Alongside his European victories, Calderari also won the Tourist Trophy in the then-standalone World Touring Car Championship in 1987.
Sports cars dutifully called though. In 1985, the Swiss driver made the first of five starts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the final four arriving in succession between 1993 and 1997. Sadly, on only one occasion did Calderari see the flag, as he finished 2nd in-class in 1994 with Écurie Biennoise and 9th overall. A class win at the Daytona 24 Hours in 1996 in the Stadler Motorsport Porsche 911 Carrera RSR more than made up for this of course.
That Enzo Calderari was still competing (and winning races) in the FIA GT Series heading into the 2000s, now predominantly in a Ferrari 333SP or 550 Maranello, proved his competitive mettle. Save a couple of outings in the FIA GT3 European Championship and Italian GTs, Enzo Calderari eventually hung up his helmet in 2009. Though not permanently, it would seem.
How fitting it would have been had Calderari managed to secure a podium on his first race in over a decade. Unfortunately, poor fortune meant Stadler Motorsport dropped back to 5th in 991 at this year’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING. Not that this was a bad thing…
Granted, Stadler Motorsport’s six-year hiatus from the 24H SERIES means you’ll want to consume this point with a hearty dash of salt. Still, the fact that 5th in-class at Hockenheim is the former 24H DUBAI winner’s best result since 2014 is borderline staggering.
The Swiss team’s hotly-anticipated return at Mugello unfortunately ended with retirement after a hefty collision on-track. Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to 2015 for Stadler Motorsport’s previous two outings, though the Swiss team would end both Dubai and Mugello early with mechanical woes.
Consequently, prior to this year’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, you have to go all the way back to 12H MUGELLO in 2014 for the last time Stadler Motorsport collected the chequered flag at a 24H SERIES event.
PROsport Racing’s run with the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 since its return in 2019 has been impressive: so far, the former Overall GT Teams’ champion secured the first win for an Aston Martin in the 24H SERIES in nine years at the 2019 Hankook 12H SPA, has since taken four more category win, and secured the GT4-class title last year in the 24H SERIES Europe.
gGive or take a few brake issues and/or on-track incidents, this season has gone pretty well for PROsport too, the German team having finished 2nd in-class in Dubai and taken GT4 wins in Paul Ricard and Hockenheim (aided, admittedly, by some reliability problems for category rival ST Racing). The latter not only propelled PROsport Racing to 3rd in the Overall GT Teams’ standings but also marked the first time an Aston Martin has taken back-to-back class wins in the 24H SERIES. Prior to that, PROsport’s best run was a 1st, a 2nd, a 1st, and another 2nd last year at Portimão, Hockenheim, the COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily, and Mugello respectively.
For added context, Speedwork Motorsport ran an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in 2015, but failed to stand on the top step at all. And the British team was that year’s SP3 champion!
Obscure? Absolutely. A (potentially) interesting point of note though. GSR Motorsport’s first podium finish in the 24H SERIES after all marks the first time that a Lithuanian team has finished inside the top three in the TCE division since RIMO finished 3rd in the SP3 class at both the Hankook 12H ZANDVOORT and the Hankook 24H BARCELONA in 2016.
At Hockenheim, CWS Engineering became the fourth different TCX class winner this season emulating PK Carsport (Dubai), Speed Lover(Portimão) and Nordschleife Racing (Paul Ricard). Added fun fact, that means the first four TCX victories of 2021 have been secured by a BMW, a Porsche, a Ligier and a Ginetta.
Incredibly, despite the former class champion having competed regularly in the 24H SERIES since 2015, this year’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING marked the first time since the 2018 Hankook 12H SPA that CWS Engineering was on the top step of the podium. On that occasion, CWS walked away with the outright TCE division win as well.
Since its arrival as a brand-new partnership for 2019, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing has enjoyed a remarkable run of success in the 24H SERIES. In 2019, the Swiss/German collaboration took victory on its debut at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, securing a further three TCE wins that season at Mugello, Brno and Portimão en-route to the Overall TCE Teams’ championship. Incredibly, Autorama / Wolf-Power Racing repeated its achievement the following year, taking another four TCE wins at Portimão (again), Hockenheim, Sicily and Mugello (again) to successfully defend its TCE title. TCR Victory at Paul Ricard and Hockenheim this year now puts the Swiss team into double figures.
Unsurprisingly, this achievement makes Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing the most successful TCR team to-date in the 24H SERIES since the category was introduced for 2016. Four wins adrift, Red Camel-Jordans.nl is currently the second.
- Words – James Gent
- Images – Petr Frýba, Boost Racing Images, and Porsche Motorsport